The BBC's Sherlock is known for its long gap between seasons; which, in part, stems from the fact that it's near impossible to get the show's cast and crew available at the same time. Still, creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have managed it once more, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will be back on our screens on January 1st of next year, starring as Holmes and Watson, respectively. They will once again be joined by Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes, Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson, and Amanda Abbington as Mary Watson.
Sherlock's three episode-long fourth season will also feature Toby Jones as Culverton Smith in the second episode, as well as a newer, smaller addition to the detecting team. Season 4 is highly anticipated; the (really) short seasons mean that they always seems to be over just as they're beginning, which in turn leaves fans wanting more. Gatiss and Moffat love to tease too; dropping clues over what Arthur Conan Doyle stories might be used as influence for each season, little hints over what might be to come - and now, an eerie fifteen second teaser which can be viewed, above.
Okay, so really not a lot happens, but what's with the flooding? It's highly possible that Sherlock really would sit there as his apartment steadily fills with water, but would John? And, given that Sherlock's apartment is upstairs, poor Mrs. Hudson must be swimming for her life down below. All will become clear, of course, and the tagline to the teaser, "It's Not A Game Anymore", falls in line with Gatiss' previous comments that this season is explicitly darker.
Coupled with that change in tone, comes the arrival of Culverton Smith in episode 2, whom, it is said, is "the purest evil" and the darkest villain ever seen on Sherlock. Given that the unhinged Moriarty (Andrew Scott) got up to some pretty dastardly stuff, it's quite the statement to make. In the original Conan Doyle book, "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", Culverton Smith attempts to poison Sherlock by sending him a gift. Sherlock catches on and fakes being near death, then listens to Smith confess to other killings.
It's not known how much of the plot for "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" will be used in Sherlock season 4, since the episode is only said to be based on the original story. It should still be a lot of fun to see Sherlock face someone who is even sharper and more evil than Moriarty... and, there's always the (fairly decent) possibility that Scott will return. Really, it wouldn't be a Sherlock season without a hint of Irish villainous charm.
Sherlock returns to BBC 1 in the U.K., and PBS in the U.S., with 'The Six Thatchers' on January 1st, 2017.